Maximus against Pagan Dualisms

The base of the article is here.

Dualism is ultimately relative since both good and evil need each other in order to be defined.  (This is why Maximus says God doesn’t have an opposite).

Dr. Joseph Farrell explains how, in the Christain worldview, man is severed from his own nature – persons are divided from nature:

“…soul and person are not the same thing, for soul is the what, and person is the who. Every person, therefore, has all the faculties of the human soul, including the power of choice, or will. But the way of using of employing that will, or the “mode of willing” varies from person to person, just the way each person “particularizes” the human nature uniquely in its own personal “mode of existence” differs from person to person. Thus, no one person, by employing his natural will uniquely, can determine any other person, since that would be to identify, and thereby to confuse, person and nature.

Farrell’s analysis, if borne careful study, will reveal that paganism always falls into a dialectic of oppositions.  It will simultaneously embody the tensions of both One and Many.

Lossky then provides the Christian answer, summarizing Maximus:

“According to St. Maximus, God is “identically a monad and a triad.” Capita theologica et oeconomica2, 13; P.G. 90, col. 1125A. He is not merely one and three; he is 1=3 and 3=1. That is to say, here we are not concerned with number as signifying quantity: absolute diversities cannot be made the subjects of sums of addition; they have not even opposition in common. If, as we have said, a personal God cannot be a monad — if he must be more than a single person — neither can he be a dyad. The dyad is always an opposition of two terms, and, in that sense, it cannot signify an absolute diversity. When we say that God is Trinity we are emerging from the series of countable or calculable numbers. St. Basil appears to express this idea well: “For we do not count by way of addition, gradually making increase from unity to plurality, saying ‘one, two, three’ or ‘first, second, third.’ ‘I am the first and I am the last,’ says God (Isaiah 44:6). And we have never, even unto our own days, heard of a second God. For in worshipping ‘God of God’ we both confess the distinction of persons and abide by the Monarchy.” De spiritu sancto18; P.G. 32, col. 149B.

The procession of the Holy Spirit is an infinite passage beyond the dyad, which consecrates the absolute (as opposed to relative) diversity of the persons. This passage beyond the dyad is not an infinite series of persons but the infinity of the procession of the Third Person: the Triad suffices to denote the Living God of revelation. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, Or. 23 (De pace 3), 10; P.G. 35, col. 1161. Or. 45 (In sanctum pascha); P.G. 36, col. 628C.If God is a monad equal to a triad, there is no place in him for a dyad. Thus the seemingly necessary opposition between the Father and the Son, which gives rise to a dyad, is purely artificial, the result of an illicit abstraction. Where the Trinity is concerned, we are in the presence of the One or of the Three, but never of two.


About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
This entry was posted in Apologetics, Church History, Occult, theology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Maximus against Pagan Dualisms

  1. Pingback: Anti-Federalist Papers | Obedient to the Covenant

  2. Pingback: Gregory, On God and Christ | Obedient to the Covenant

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